|TWO SIDES TO THE PUBLISHING COIN
by Senior Editor Kevin Wallis
You sit at your computer and open your email, wondering if today is the day. Six
new messages sit in your inbox. Some jokes from a coworker, a bill pay
notification, OK. No, you don’t need any meds to enhance your sexual pleasure,
thank you. Then there it is.
Your heart starts a snare drum roll in your chest. Your palms drown in sweat. This
is the one you’ve been waiting on; four months of alternating between Pulitzer
confidence and skin-mag dismay, four months of checking your email every five
minutes. You might step outside for a moment to give yourself that BS-laced pep-
talk. Maybe you ask your spouse to come in with you, because this is the email
that will make or break you as a writer.
You click it open. . .
Does this sound familiar? If you’re a writer, no doubt it does, at least if you’re
relatively new to the game like myself. (Some of you crafty veterans may already
be too jaded to give a damn!)
You pour your soul into your stories. You brainstorm every morning on the way to
your real job. You work through sticky plot points while lying in bed at night,
staring at the ceiling as if that damn logic discrepancy in your climax will rewrite
itself in magic ink up there. Finally it’s done and you reread it, and edit it, and re-
edit it, this sentence goes here, scratch that forced metaphor, delete the busy
attributives, less telling, MORE SHOWING!
Then you send it in and the silence is deafening.
So what about the other side of the coin, the editors?
Several months ago, I was asked by John "JAM" Arthur Miller to be the senior
editor of a new fantasy/art ezine called Liquid Imagination. I accepted, and my
entire take on the submission process changed.
As an editor, I’m learning to look past simple grammatical and punctuation errors
to the heart, the meat, the message of the story. I’m learning to separate the
“here’s how I would’ve written it” aspect. I’m learning to gag the loud-mouthed,
nit-picking little editor gnome in my brain and just read a story for the untainted
joy of reading. But most of all, I’m learning that there are a boatload of factors
that play into whether a story is accepted.
What if I’m in a piss-poor mood as I read a submission to LI? What if my wife just
implied I’m getting fat by saying “there’s so much more of you to hug nowadays?”
Can I justify rejecting a story that is written 100 times better than anything I can
ever hope to write just because it didn’t fill me with the intensity and awe my boss-
man is looking for in his mag? What if I’ve worked 60 hours that week and unfairly
read your story with less-than-impressive attention? What if I loved your story at
the beginning when the Astros had a 2-run lead, but hated the ending after they
blew it in the ninth? I try to leave helpful, inspiring comments to writers whose
work I reject, but does it matter in the long run? I can only hope so.
My point is this – there are two sides to having your work published. Bleed into the
first part, the writing, then let it go. Trust me, it’s so far out of your hands at that
point that stressing over it and constantly checking your email as frantic and
anxious as a pothead looking for his lost bong will only give you high blood
pressure and stomach ulcers, but not any more acceptances.
And if you’re rejected, as I have been many, many times, bear in mind that just
because that particular editor passed on your world-changing tale doesn’t mean
they all will. Maybe the next one isn’t an Astros fan.